Nutrition therapy for the underweight. Putting on weight – a piece of cake?

Nutrition therapy for the underweight (Picture Credits: ©Sponchia/pixabay)

While many people struggle with being overweight, quite a few have problems with the opposite – being underweight.

Most underweight people find it rather difficult to gain weight. Everyone has their own, individual problems, and very often they only become clear in the course of therapy. Some people can eat only very little because they get full too quickly; others generally attach too little importance to food or simply have not learned to take care of themselves. Both cases usually call for individual counselling.

Nutrition therapy process

Step 1: Health and nutritional history

Step 2: Personal nutrition plan

Step 3: Determine key areas of focus for counselling

Step 4: Define counselling period

Step 5: Put plan into action and stay on the ball

Gaining weight in a healthy way.

Step 1: Health and nutrition analysis, metabolic influencing factors

Individualised counselling begins with a detailed anamnesis. The initial consultation will involve an assessment of health parameters and current nutritional behaviour, lifestyle and stress factors.

  • Medical history: review of medical diagnosis and laboratory data
  • Nutrition history: understanding the course of the disease, feedback on the first protocol
  • Instructions for keeping a nutritional protocol
  • Individual target definition of nutritional therapy

Step 2: Nutrition plan for weight gain

You will be given a personalised nutrition plan that shows you how to gain weight in a healthy way. Recommendations vary widely depending on what exactly is causing the underweight and your day-to-day situation.

The nutrition plan involves:

  • Determining portion sizes according to individual needs
  • Shifting focus from calorie targets to easy-to-follow quantity recommendations, e.g. slices, cups, tablespoons, etc.
  • Meal structure / composition
  • Mealtime planning
  • Attaining a balanced intake of all nutrients according to German Nutrition Society (DGE) guidelines
  • Consideration of individual likes and dislikes
  • Practical tips for everyday life
  • Meal plan ideas

Nutrition protocols are used to ensure and monitor the inclusion of adequate energy and nutrients.

Step 3: Determine focal points of counselling

The focus of nutritional therapy depends on what is making you underweight and findings from the anamnesis.

Therapy might involve the following:

  • Agreement on partial goals
  • Review of the weight agreement
  • Framework conditions for eating behaviour
  • Perception of hunger and satiety
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Body attentiveness
  • Talking about doubts or fears during nutrition therapy
  • Stabilisation agreements

Step 4: Define counselling period

You will receive personal consultations and support in one-on-one sessions. Therapy duration depends on the specific goal you want to achieve.

Step 5: Put it into practice and stay on the ball

The nutrition-therapeutic goal for those who are underweight is to steadily, gradually gain weight in a balanced and healthy way while taking the underlying disease or cause of the underweight into account. It is crucial that nutritional recommendations are based not only on body weight, but also on the person’s overall situation, i.e. that requirements for treating the underlying disease or condition are taken into account.

If the weight loss or underweight is unintentional, then it may be caused by an underlying illness or disease. Pathological weight loss can also trigger anorexia.

Consultation times

Monday – Thursday: 07.45 am – 12.30 pm
Monday – Thursday: 02.00 pm – 06.00 pm

Making an appointment / telephone consultation hours

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 12.45 – 01.15 pm

Typical diseases that can lead to weight loss

If the weight loss or underweight is unwanted, the cause can be an illness. Morbid weight loss itself can also lead to anorexia.

Gaby Lingath